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1 <?xml version='1.0' encoding='UTF-8'?>
2 <!DOCTYPE guide SYSTEM "/dtd/guide.dtd">
3 <!-- $Header: /var/cvsroot/gentoo/xml/htdocs/doc/en/xfce-config.xml,v 1.13 2007/10/18 18:32:44 nightmorph Exp $ -->
4
5 <guide link="/doc/en/xfce-config.xml">
6 <title>The Xfce Configuration Guide</title>
7
8 <author title="Author">
9 <mail link="nightmorph@gentoo.org">Joshua Saddler</mail>
10 </author>
11
12 <abstract>
13 This guide provides an extensive introduction to Xfce, a fast, lightweight,
14 full-featured desktop environment.
15 </abstract>
16
17 <!-- The content of this document is licensed under the CC-BY-SA license -->
18 <!-- See http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5 -->
19 <license/>
20
21 <version>1.10</version>
22 <date>2007-11-13</date>
23
24 <chapter>
25 <title>Introduction</title>
26 <section>
27 <title>The Xfce desktop environment</title>
28 <body>
29
30 <p>
31 <uri link="http://www.xfce.org">Xfce</uri> is a fast, lightweight desktop
32 environment for Unix-like operating systems. It is designed for productivity,
33 and is quite configurable while still adhering to the <uri
34 link="http://www.freedesktop.org">Freedesktop</uri> specifications.
35 </p>
36
37 <p>
38 Unlike heavier desktop environments, such as Gnome and KDE, Xfce uses far fewer
39 system resources. Additionally, it offers greater modularity and fewer
40 dependencies; it takes up less space on your hard disk and takes less time to
41 install.
42 </p>
43
44 <p>
45 This guide will not only show you how to install and configure a minimal Xfce
46 environment, but will also explore options to create a full-featured desktop in
47 keeping with the Xfce philosophy: light, fast, and modular.
48 </p>
49
50 <p>
51 Additionally, this guide will show you how to <uri link="#upgrade">upgrade</uri>
52 from version 4.2 to 4.4.
53 </p>
54
55 </body>
56 </section>
57 </chapter>
58
59 <chapter>
60 <title>Installing Xfce</title>
61 <section>
62 <title>The basics</title>
63 <body>
64
65 <p>
66 First, make sure you've setup Xorg as shown in the <uri
67 link="/doc/en/xorg-config.xml">X Server Configuration Howto</uri>.
68 </p>
69
70 <p>
71 Next, double-check your USE flags in <path>/etc/make.conf</path>; you'll
72 probably at least want <c>USE="-gnome -kde -qt3 -qt4 X dbus hal startup-notification xscreensaver"</c>.
73 </p>
74
75 <p>
76 Now, let's install Xfce.
77 </p>
78
79 <pre caption="Installing Xfce">
80 # <i>emerge -avt xfce4</i>
81 </pre>
82
83 <p>
84 Next, add your regular user(s) to the <c>plugdev</c>, <c>cdrom</c>, <c>cdrw</c>,
85 and <c>usb</c> groups, so that they can take full advantage of <c>hal</c> and be
86 able to mount and use devices such as cameras, optical drives, and USB sticks.
87 </p>
88
89 <pre caption="Adding users to the hardware groups">
90 <comment>(Replace username with your actual user)</comment>
91 # <i>for x in plugdev cdrom cdrw usb ; do gpasswd -a username $x ; done</i>
92 </pre>
93
94 <p>
95 Next, update your environment variables:
96 </p>
97
98 <pre caption="Updating environment variables">
99 # <i>env-update &amp;&amp; source /etc/profile</i>
100 </pre>
101
102 <p>
103 Now start up <c>hald</c> and add it to the default runlevel:
104 </p>
105
106 <pre caption="Starting hald">
107 # <i>/etc/init.d/hald start</i>
108 # <i>rc-update add hald default</i>
109 </pre>
110
111 </body>
112 </section>
113 </chapter>
114
115 <chapter>
116 <title>Configuring Xfce</title>
117 <section>
118 <title>Starting Xfce</title>
119 <body>
120
121 <p>
122 Now that Xfce is now installed, we'll configure it to be the default desktop
123 environment when we issue the <c>startx</c> command. Exit your root shell and
124 log on as a regular user.
125 </p>
126
127 <pre caption="Setting Xfce as the default desktop environment">
128 $ <i>echo "exec startxfce4" > ~/.xinitrc</i>
129 </pre>
130
131 <p>
132 Now start your graphical environment by typing <c>startx</c>:
133 </p>
134
135 <pre caption="Starting Xfce">
136 $ <i>startx</i>
137 </pre>
138
139 <p>
140 Congratulations, and welcome to your new Xfce desktop environment. Go ahead,
141 explore it a bit. Then continue reading to learn how you can configure Xfce to
142 suit your needs.
143 </p>
144
145 </body>
146 </section>
147 <section>
148 <title>Program access</title>
149 <body>
150
151 <p>
152 You might notice right-clicking on the desktop shows you the menu of all your
153 applications. It's useful, but your desktop can easily be completely obscured by
154 open windows, making it hard to to launch a new program. So, one of the first
155 things you may wish to do is give yourself a handy application menu on your
156 panel. Right click on this panel, and choose "Add New Item". Scroll through the
157 list of choices and select "Xfce Menu". You can choose where you want it to be
158 displayed on your panel. When clicked, it displays the application/preferences
159 menu, providing a nicely categorized list of your installed programs.
160 </p>
161
162 </body>
163 </section>
164 <section>
165 <title>Sessions &amp; startup</title>
166 <body>
167
168 <p>
169 If you've installed (or plan to install) popular Gnome or KDE applications such
170 as <c>k3b</c>, <c>nautilus</c>, <c>kmail</c>, <c>evolution</c>, etc. then you
171 should make sure that Xfce launches the appropriate services for these at
172 startup. Navigate to Menu --> Settings --> Sessions &amp; Startup. On the
173 "Advanced" tab, select the appropriate checkbox. This might slightly increase
174 Xfce startup times, but it decreases load times for KDE and Gnome applications.
175 </p>
176
177 <p>
178 Xfce has the ability to save your session settings and running programs from the
179 "General" tab in the Sessions &amp; Startup menu. They can be automatically
180 saved when you logout, or Xfce can ask you each time. This feature is
181 particularly useful for undoing configuration mistakes. Accidentally killed a
182 panel? Just select "No" when prompted to save your current session, and the next
183 time you start Xfce, your old desktop is restored. Want to automatically launch
184 your open webbrowser, terminal, and email client the next time you login? Just
185 save your session before logging out.
186 </p>
187
188 <p>
189 You've now got a basic working environment installed and configured. But if
190 you're interested in doing more, then continue reading!
191 </p>
192
193 </body>
194 </section>
195 </chapter>
196
197 <chapter>
198 <title>Additional Applications</title>
199 <section>
200 <title>Panel plugins</title>
201 <body>
202
203 <p>
204 In this chapter, we'll discuss some useful plugins and applications for everyday
205 use within Xfce.
206 </p>
207
208 <p>
209 There are many plugins for the panel available in Portage; see for yourself with
210 <c>emerge --search xfce</c>. Though for the most part their names are self
211 explanatory, a few deserve some attention, as they are quite helpful. To use
212 them, simply <c>emerge</c> them. They'll be added to the list of available items
213 in the "Add New Item" menu shown when you right-click on the panel.
214 </p>
215
216 <ul>
217 <li>
218 <c>xfce4-mount</c> gives you a handy method of mounting devices listed in
219 <path>/etc/fstab</path> just by clicking your mouse
220 </li>
221 <li>
222 <c>xfce4-battery</c> is perfect for laptop users. It displays battery
223 percentage, time remaining, power source (AC or battery), fan status,
224 warnings, and can even be configured to execute commands at certain power
225 levels. This feature can be used to put the laptop into hibernate mode when
226 the battery is almost exhausted.
227 </li>
228 <li>
229 <c>verve</c> is a small command line embedded into the panel. It's quicker
230 than opening up another terminal when you want to run a command.
231 </li>
232 <li>
233 <c>xfce4-mixer</c> is a volume control. It works with both ALSA and OSS
234 sound applications.
235 </li>
236 </ul>
237
238 <p>
239 If you can't find what you're looking for in the plugins specifically made for
240 Xfce, try searching through the list of Gnome panel applets! That's right, by
241 first emerging <c>xfce4-xfapplet</c>, you can install and run any applet made
242 for Gnome.
243 </p>
244
245 </body>
246 </section>
247 <section>
248 <title>Useful programs</title>
249 <body>
250
251 <p>
252 Xfce bundles a few useful applications, including <c>thunar</c>,
253 <c>terminal</c>, <c>orage</c>, and <c>mousepad</c>. Note that the last three
254 will not be installed if you built <c>xfce4</c> with the <c>minimal</c> USE
255 flag. However, these are all very small, yet terrific applications, so they're
256 well worth installing.
257 </p>
258
259 <p>
260 <c>orage</c> is a simple, handy calendar. <c>mousepad</c> is a barebones text
261 editor that starts up extremely quickly. <c>terminal</c> is far more
262 configurable and useful than xterm, and supports Unicode text,
263 pseudo-transparency and accelerated transparency via Xfce's built-in
264 compositor, all out-of-the-box. Just make sure that the default action on the
265 terminal launcher of your panel runs <path>/usr/bin/Terminal</path> instead of
266 xterm. Right click the launcher and choose "Properties" to change the command.
267 </p>
268
269 <p>
270 <c>thunar</c> is Xfce's built-in graphical file manager. It's fast yet quite
271 powerful, can support a few plugins for even more functionality; just install
272 them with <c>emerge</c>. Let's take a look:
273 </p>
274
275 <ul>
276 <li>
277 <c>thunar-archive</c> lets you create and extract archive files using the
278 right-click menu. It works even better when paired with the new graphical
279 archiving <uri
280 link="http://www.foo-projects.org/~benny/projects/thunar-archive-plugin/">tool</uri>
281 developed for Xfce, <c>xarchiver</c>.
282 </li>
283 <li>
284 <c>thunar-media-tags</c> lets you intelligently rename multiple media files
285 at once, and lets you <uri
286 link="http://thunar.xfce.org/pwiki/projects/thunar-media-tags-plugin">edit</uri>
287 their information tags, such as id3 tags.
288 </li>
289 <li>
290 <c>thunar-thumbnailers</c> lets you <uri
291 link="http://goodies.xfce.org/projects/thunar-plugins/thunar-thumbnailers">preview</uri>
292 certain types of files from within Thunar, such as images and fonts.
293 </li>
294 <li>
295 <c>thunar-volman</c> automatically <uri
296 link="http://foo-projects.org/~benny/projects/thunar-volman/">manages</uri>
297 removable media and drives.
298 </li>
299 </ul>
300
301 <p>
302 Next, let's see about adding some useful but lightweight desktop applications,
303 in keeping with Xfce's philosophy.
304 </p>
305
306 <p>
307 Though <c>mousepad</c> is nice enough, if you need a full-featured word
308 processor but don't want the bloat of OpenOffice, try emerging <c>abiword</c>.
309 <uri link="http://www.abisource.com">AbiWord</uri> is lighter, faster, and is
310 completely interoperable with industry-standard document types.
311 </p>
312
313 <pre caption="Adding a word processor">
314 # <i>emerge -avt abiword</i>
315 </pre>
316
317 <p>
318 Need a nice email client/newsreader that isn't as demanding as
319 <c>mozilla-thunderbird</c> or <c>evolution</c>? Try emerging <c>claws-mail</c>.
320 </p>
321
322 <p>
323 For your internet chat needs, <c>irssi</c> is an excellent, tiny, incredibly
324 configurable IRC client that runs in your terminal. If you prefer a compact
325 all-in-one client that handles nearly all chat protocols, you may want to
326 <c>emerge pidgin</c>.
327 </p>
328
329 <p>
330 If you need movie and music players, look no further than <c>mplayer</c> and
331 <c>audacious</c>. They can play most every media format available quite nicely,
332 and have a wealth of additional plugins available for additional functionality.
333 </p>
334
335 <p>
336 Finally, you'll need a webbrowser. Nearly all graphical webbrowsers require more
337 resources than most of your other desktop applications. Still,
338 <c>mozilla-firefox</c> (or <c>mozilla-firefox-bin</c>) is always a good choice.
339 Alternatively, you may find <c>opera</c> to be quite fast. However, <c>opera</c>
340 is not available on as many processor architectures as <c>mozilla-firefox</c>,
341 and it has more dependencies unless you override them with a USE flag.
342 </p>
343
344 <pre caption="Adding a webbrowser">
345 <comment>(Installing Mozilla Firefox)</comment>
346 # <i>emerge mozilla-firefox</i>
347 <comment>(Installing Opera)</comment>
348 # <i>echo "www-client/opera qt-static" >> /etc/portage/package.use</i>
349 # <i>emerge opera</i>
350 </pre>
351
352 <p>
353 Now that we've explored some good suggestions for rounding out your desktop
354 applications, let's see what else we can do to enhance your Xfce experience.
355 </p>
356
357 </body>
358 </section>
359 <section>
360 <title>Graphical login</title>
361 <body>
362
363 <p>
364 Remember when we added <c>startxfce4</c> to our <path>~/.xinitrc</path>? All you
365 have to do to get into your desktop is type <c>startx</c> after logging in. This
366 is fine if you prefer a completely text-based boot and login, but let's use a
367 display manager that will automatically start Xfce after booting (so that you
368 can login graphically).
369 </p>
370
371 <p>
372 First, let's make sure Xfce loads at boot:
373 </p>
374
375 <pre caption="Adding xdm to the default runlevel">
376 # <i>rc-update add xdm default</i>
377 </pre>
378
379 <p>
380 We aren't quite finished yet. We have to pick a display manager and set the
381 appropriate variable. Though there are a few choices available in Portage, for
382 this guide, we'll stick with two display manager options: <c>xdm</c> and
383 <c>gdm</c>.
384 </p>
385
386 <p>
387 <c>xdm</c> is speedy and lightweight, but it isn't pretty, and isn't really
388 customizable. If you'd like to use it, first <c>emerge</c> it:
389 </p>
390
391 <pre caption="Installing XDM">
392 # <i>emerge -avt xdm</i>
393 </pre>
394
395 <p>
396 Then edit the DISPLAYMANAGER variable in <path>/etc/conf.d/xdm</path>:
397 </p>
398
399 <pre caption="Editing /etc/conf.d/xdm">
400 DISPLAYMANAGER="xdm"
401 </pre>
402
403 <p>
404 <c>xdm</c> can automatically start your Xfce session if you add XSESSION="Xfce4"
405 to <path>/etc/rc.conf</path>.
406 </p>
407
408 <p>
409 While you can choose to stick with (the rather ugly) <c>xdm</c>, why not try
410 <c>gdm</c> instead? It's far more configurable, and much, much prettier. First,
411 let's <c>emerge</c> it. Note that though it has a few dependencies, they're
412 small, and they're not as nearly as numerous as other display managers.
413 </p>
414
415 <pre caption="Installing GDM">
416 # <i>emerge -avt gdm</i>
417 </pre>
418
419 <p>
420 Next, change the DISPLAYMANAGER variable to use <c>gdm</c> instead of
421 <c>xdm</c>:
422 </p>
423
424 <pre caption="Editing /etc/conf.d/xdm">
425 DISPLAYMANAGER="gdm"
426 </pre>
427
428 </body>
429 </section>
430 <section>
431 <title>Beautifying your desktop</title>
432 <body>
433
434 <p>
435 A little customization of your desktop's appearance can go a long way. Xfce has
436 all the options you'd expect from a modern desktop environment, font
437 antialiasing settings, color schemes, dozens of window decorations, themes, and
438 more. If these aren't enough, it's easy to install third-party themes, icon
439 sets, mouse cursor themes, and wallpapers.
440 </p>
441
442 <p>
443 A selection of nice Gentoo wallpapers in a variety of resolutions are hosted on
444 the <uri link="/main/en/graphics.xml">Gentoo website</uri>. If you're looking
445 for icon sets and complete Xfce themes, <uri
446 link="http://www.xfce-look.org/">Xfce-Look</uri> has a huge collection. The
447 important thing to remember about any third-party eyecandy you download is that
448 it will usually first need to be unpacked and then installed to the proper
449 directory. Icon sets go in <path>/usr/share/icons/</path>, and themes go to
450 <path>/usr/share/themes/</path>; use these directories when you want all users
451 to be able to access themes and icon sets. Individual users can install themes
452 and icon sets to <path>~/.themes/</path> and <path>~/.icons/</path>.
453 </p>
454
455 <p>
456 If you installed GDM as your display manager, take a look at the many GDM themes
457 available on <uri link="http://www.gnome-look.org">Gnome-Look</uri>. To install
458 them, you can either unpack and move them to
459 <path>/usr/share/gdm/themes/</path> on the command line, or you can run
460 <c>gdmsetup</c> as <b>root</b> and drag'n'drop the archive into the GDM window.
461 There are some <uri
462 link="http://gnome-look.org/content/show.php?content=45575">very nice</uri>
463 Gentoo <uri
464 link="http://gnome-look.org/content/show.php?content=20071">themes</uri>
465 available.
466 </p>
467
468 <p>
469 Finally, Xfce has its own built-in compositor to manage window transparency.
470 This option can be found in Menu --> Settings --> Window Manager. For best
471 performance, you will need to be running a graphics card with drivers that
472 support hardware-accelerated rendering. Make sure you emerged <c>xfwm4</c> with
473 the <c>xcomposite</c> USE flag. Next, you will need to enable compositing in
474 <path>/etc/X11/xorg.conf</path> by adding the following section:
475 </p>
476
477 <pre caption="Enabling composite in xorg.conf">
478 Section "Extensions"
479 Option "Composite" "Enable"
480 EndSection
481 </pre>
482
483 <p>
484 This is the bare minimum configuration required for Xfce and Xorg-X11. However,
485 setting up hardware-accelerated rendering depends on your individual graphics
486 card, and is beyond the scope of this guide. Please see the other guides in the
487 <uri link="/doc/en/index.xml?catid=desktop">Desktop Documentation
488 Resources</uri> list to learn about configuring hardware-accelerated rendering
489 for your graphics card.
490 </p>
491
492 </body>
493 </section>
494 </chapter>
495
496 <chapter id="upgrade">
497 <title>Upgrading</title>
498 <section>
499 <title>Upgrading from 4.2 to 4.4</title>
500 <body>
501
502 <p>
503 Upgrading from Xfce 4.2 to 4.4 isn't hard, but neither is it as simple as most
504 upgrades. With the release of 4.4, many older packages are either deprecated, or
505 their functionality has been included into the desktop in some other manner.
506 </p>
507
508 <p>
509 First, update your Portage tree (<c>emerge --sync</c>), then see what Xfce
510 updates are available (<c>emerge -pvtuD world</c>).
511 </p>
512
513 <p>
514 You'll notice that there will be a list of packages that block upgrading, as
515 most 4.2 packages cannot coexist with 4.4 packages. Here, the solution is pretty
516 straightforward: just unmerge the blocking packages, as described in the <uri
517 link="/doc/en/handbook/handbook-x86.xml?part=2&amp;chap=1">Portage
518 Handbook</uri> and <c>man emerge</c>, then continue with the update.
519 </p>
520
521 <p>
522 Next, you may need to rebuild certain packages, such as applications linked
523 against <c>dbus</c>. You'll need to first install <c>gentoolkit</c> for this.
524 Then, once <c>gentoolkit</c> is installed, run:
525 </p>
526
527 <pre caption="Rebuilding packages">
528 # <i>revdep-rebuild -p</i>
529 <comment>(If you see any output about broken packages, run this next command)</comment>
530 # <i>revdep-rebuild</i>
531 </pre>
532
533 <note>
534 For more information, please read <c>man revdep-rebuild</c> and our <uri
535 link="/doc/en/gentoolkit.xml">Gentoolkit Guide</uri>.
536 </note>
537
538 <p>
539 Once the rebuild has finished, run <c>revdep-rebuild -p</c> again, just to make
540 sure you have a clean and consistent world. If anything still shows up, keep
541 repeating <c>revdep-rebuild -p</c> and <c>revdep-rebuild</c> until there's no
542 more output about broken packages. Most Xfce update problems stem from
543 <c>dbus</c> issues, as Xfce uses <c>dbus</c> quite extensively.
544 </p>
545
546 <p>
547 Next, restart <c>dbus</c> and/or <c>hal</c>.
548 </p>
549
550 <pre caption="Restarting dbus and hal">
551 # <i>/etc/init.d/dbus restart</i>
552 # <i>/etc/init.d/hald restart</i>
553 </pre>
554
555 <p>
556 Finally, give yourself a fresh environment.
557 </p>
558
559 <pre caption="Updating the environment variables">
560 # <i>env-update &amp;&amp; source /etc/profile</i>
561 </pre>
562
563 </body>
564 </section>
565 <section>
566 <title>Settings</title>
567 <body>
568
569 <p>
570 Make sure you familiarize yourself with all the new options available in the new
571 Settings Manager. Of interest are the options in the Desktop screen; Xfce can
572 now manage your desktop and place icons on it.
573 </p>
574
575 <p>
576 There's also a Window Manager Tweaks screen, in which you can adjust the
577 behavior of windows, workspaces, and transparency (if enabled). Xfce 4.4 has
578 slightly changed the default behavior of workspaces and active window focus. If
579 you find that clicking a hyperlink in one workspace switches your browser to
580 that workspace from another one (or similar annoying window focus behavior), try
581 Settings --> Window Manager Tweaks --> Focus --> Activate Focus Stealing
582 Prevention.
583 </p>
584
585 <p>
586 Be sure to read the <uri link="http://www.xfce.org/documentation/">Xfce
587 Documentation</uri> and take the <uri link="http://www.xfce.org/about/tour">Xfce
588 Tour</uri> to learn more about 4.4 and how to configure it.
589 </p>
590
591 </body>
592 </section>
593 </chapter>
594
595 <chapter>
596 <title>Summary</title>
597 <section>
598 <body>
599
600 <p>
601 Congratulations on making it this far! You've installed and configured a speedy
602 desktop environment with a solid suite of applications for your computing
603 needs.
604 </p>
605
606 </body>
607 </section>
608 <section>
609 <title>Resources</title>
610 <body>
611
612 <p>
613 Need additional help on configuring and using Xfce? Need more lightweight
614 application suggestions? Try checking out:
615 </p>
616
617 <ul>
618 <li><uri link="http://forums.gentoo.org">The Gentoo forums</uri></li>
619 <li>#xfce on irc.freenode.net</li>
620 <li>
621 The installed help files and other documentation provided by Xfce:
622 <path>/usr/share/xfce4/doc/C/index.html</path>. Just point your browser at
623 it and start reading. There are even a lot of "hidden" configuration options
624 detailed in the help files.
625 </li>
626 <li><uri link="http://www.xfce.org">Xfce's home page</uri></li>
627 </ul>
628
629 </body>
630 </section>
631 </chapter>
632 </guide>

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